Wildlife poaching is big business and rhino horn worth more than gold. The only thing standing between South Africa's animals and possible extinction is a new breed of anti-poaching rangers. They come from a wide range of backgrounds, but they have one thing in common - they are prepared to lay their lives on the line for Africa's wildlife.

Wildlife poaching is big business. It is worth more than $17bn a year and growing. In Vietnam, rhino horn is thought to be a cure for cancer and is currently worth more than gold.

I never thought I would see whites, blacks and coloureds come together like this … as a family, to help each other complete the training.

Lionel Poney, a wildlife reserve gate guard 

Wildlife Warzone follows a new batch of trainee rangers as they are pushed to their limits in training; not all of them will make it. Those that do, once trained, will head out into the field to begin the fight back against the poachers.

They are black, white, coloured and come from a wide range of backgrounds, but they have one thing in common - they are prepared to lay their lives on the line for Africa's wildlife.

The ranger training course is brutally tough from the start. Vince Barkas, the head of the course, explains: "We cannot have people here that are soft. We cannot have people that will crack under pressure. The reality of this situation is that you are going to be given a semi-automatic weapon when you finish this training. You will have 100th of a second to decide whether you can pull the trigger or not."

The rangers must be as fit as the heavily armed poachers they will up against. But by the end of day one, some recruits are already having fitness problems. They will not all make it through.

They have, however, learned their first important lesson: survival in the bush is about being able to rely 100 percent on your teammates; it is about becoming 'one team, one family'.


Source: Al Jazeera